KFC, El Pollo Loco Pitch Hispanics With New Efforts

KFC’s Hispanic agency follows the lead of its general-market counterpart with a campaign breaking this week that drops a celebrity pitchman from a more straightforward, product-centric approach.

The work follows the launch of a new campaign from KFC’s West Coast competitor, El Pollo Loco, which last week broke the first in a series of TV spots that show the quirky and sometimes humorous ways people respond to the taste of the chain’s food. Past efforts have pushed the authentic flavor of El Pollo Loco’s flame-grilled chicken.

Yum! Brands’ KFC, the nation’s No. 1 fast-food chicken chain with nearly 13,000 outlets and 2003 sales of $2.9 billion, according to Hoover’s Online, employs a back-to-basics approach. The spots from DGWB Advertising’s Hispanic division, Adelante, show how KFC’s menu fits into a Hispanic lifestyle. For the past two years, the Santa Ana, Calif., independent has used Hispanic TV personality Fernando Arau to pitch the brand.

The shift follows KFC’s decision last summer to drop its general-market pitchman, actor Jason Alexander, who starred in spots from Omnicom Group’s BBDO. KFC moved its $280 million general-market account to Interpublic Group’s Foote Cone & Belding last September. FCB’s first ads suggested the client’s fried chicken was healthy, provoking a storm of criticism and a quick shift to the present work, which touts “Kitchen fresh chicken.”

DGWB, which generally does only a single campaign each year for KFC, never followed the ill-fated healthy-eating strategy. The shop’s three new spots retain the Hispanic tagline, “Nada se compara con KFC,” which translates to “Nothing compares to KFC.”

A spot that breaks this week shows a guy and three friends serenading a girl outside her window. When she doesn’t appear, they go to KFC. As they leave with a bucket of chicken, the aroma wafts up, and women all down the street open their windows to take it in.

“The goal of this campaign is to be synergistic with what’s going on [in the general market], but not be strict adaptations,” said Jon Gothold, partner and ecd at DGWB. “KFC knows they have a great family product. We want to make sure Hispanic families are invited to that.”

Spending was not disclosed. KFC spent $5 million on Hispanic network TV ads in 2003, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The new campaign for El Pollo Loco, which has more than 310 restaurants primarily located in California and 2003 sales of $396 million, according to Hoover’s Online, was created by independent cruz/kravetz: Ideas in Culver City, Calif. The work, which broke last week, is tagged, “Siempre tan rico como la primera vez” (loosely: “Always as delicious as the first time”), which replaces “Una loca pasion” (“A crazy passion”).

The strategy is similar to KFC’s, putting the chicken in the center of situations involving Hispanics. In one spot, a boyfriend is introduced to a family. He eats some El Pollo Loco chicken proferred by his hosts, leaps up and passionately kisses the mother.

Hispanic spending was not disclosed. Last month, El Pollo Loco awarded its $7 million general-market account to independent Krueger in Torrance, Calif., after its previous shop, WPP’s Young & Rubicam in Irvine, Calif., resigned the business.

Krueger’s first campaign for El Pollo Loco is expected to break in May.